Next Stop: Batty

Hangin' by a thread, here. I'm just sayin'.

Wednesday, March 01, 2006

On Tomboys and DELURKING

Is there another word for "tomboy?" I've got one of them there tomboys, and the term is supremely irritating to me (because it grants implicit weight to the notion that there are certain activities, likes, and sensibilities that are "normally" reserved for boys, and certain ones that are for the girls). What a load of pink plastic ka-ka that doubles as Positively Peach lip gloss! Toys R Us even has it all separated out by aisle. McYuk's gives out "girl toys" and "boy toys" (though not the GOOD kind of "boy toy.") And just take note of this for the next 3 or 4 visits to the golden arches: the "girl toys" are nearly ALWAYS passive, and the boy toys nearly always DO stuff. What the hell is up with that? Makes me want to confiscate the toys the minute they enter the car, take them back OUT of the car, and place them squarely under the front tires. I know, if I were a better feminist/ pissed off consumer, I wouldn't even go to Micky D's, and yes, I read Fast Food Nation and yes, I saw Supersize Me. And, in truth, I take my kids maybe 5 times a year. It's because the Happy Meal really does make them happy, damn it! And a chocolate shake is quite a nice pick-me-up for Mommy.

My girl likes space, and climbing trees, and knights, and swords, and bugs, and snakes, and danger, and spies, and forts, and exploring, and rock collections, and jokes about farts, and pants, and snowball fights, and performing magic, and superheroes. How awesome is that? But she kind of...umm...stuck out a bit at school, where most of her female peers were being raised on Lizzy McGuire, Cinderella, and MAKE-UP (for crying out loud), and felt they knew what a girl should be...and it wasn't snakes and snails. When we moved our girls to a Waldorf school -- where kids aren't supposed to watch TV or videos, or play on the computer -- my little "tomboy" suddenly looked and acted a lot like the other girls in her class -- girls who were getting mud on the knees of the corduroys and just being seven year old KIDS.

Pardon my French, but what the (insert French expletive) are we DOING to our fabulous, strong girls??? I know...I also have a girl that was born to love dolls and twirly velvet dresses. And she wasn't socialized to be the soft, frilly way she is. God just picked that for her. But God ain't gonna make her no PRINCESS when she hits puberty, and he ain't gonna give her an 18" waist or perpetually shiny hair, or impossibly perfect skin, or enough money so she can SIT ON HER ROYAL ASS for a living. And really, what else do these Disney princesses have going for them? I mean, with the possible (yet flimsy) exception of Mulan, what have any of these sparkly bitches done for us lately? And Barbie, too. Barbie can kiss my fuming ass. When girls are "playing Barbies," does anybody save anybody? Teach anybody anything? Discover anything? Solve anything? Earn anything? Does Barbie do anything? No. How can she, with those molded high-heeled feet?!? We want our girls to be her?? Really??? I'd sooner have my girls learn about gravity and aerodynamics with her by pitching her and her capris off a ten story building. And on the flip side, the boy "action figures" (at least they have "action" built in...) save lots of people, but they usually do it by blowing things up. Go figure. Where would the boys get the idea to destroy things? Could it be the various weapons that come with the dolls?

Okay, I can't decide if I feel better now, or more upset.

And speaking of upset, if you people don't start commenting (delurking) so that I know anyone is reading this I swear I'm gonna hit the Ben and Jerry's, and that is not a good thing. I mean, if just, oh, six or seven people were reading my thoughts on vomit and bear shit, I would feel so validated. This is SOLID STUFF, people. My husband, who wants to get laid, even said so. And I fixed the comment moderator thingy so anyone can comment at any time. And I'm not bluffing about the ice cream. I have fatty foods, and I'm not afraid to use 'em.

So, go ahead, stick up for Barbie and Belle...or slam 'em! And let's come up with an alternative to "tomboy." It'll be fun.


At 9:41 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Slowly, put down the spoon and step away from the ice cream.

Yes, of course people are reading ... they just can't think of comments that can compare with your luminous prose.

At 7:03 AM, Blogger hbbaby said...

Tomboy...well I have a niece in high school that still is a "Tomboy" but she has a sweatshirt that reads, "I'm not a Tomboy, I'm an athlete." How perfect is that? How sad is our society that girls cannot be strong without being a "Tomboy" and women cannot be assertive without being a "Bitch"? Perhaps I will get a t-shrit that reads: "I'm not a Bitch, I'm a business professional"...
Embrace your daughters "tomboyness" she will be far better for it! And perhaps Athlete is a good substitue for Tomboy.

FYI, I don't blog here, just read others...if you want to read my log on gayparenting...go to

At 10:54 AM, Blogger Laura said...

Oooo, Ben and Jerry's! I never want to get in the way of a woman and her ice cream.

I've got one of those genetically girly-girl types which occasionally makes me cringe. Do people really label someone as "tomboy" anymore? Sheesh, you'd think as a society we would have so moved on...

At 6:17 PM, Blogger Shelley said...

I saw a shirt in Target today (don't ask) that has a stick figure in an "almost falling" pose, with the text "I do all my own stunts." I may go back (!!) and snag one for my favorite gender-constraints-ignorin' niece? Taylor will find her tribe and be fine, but I'm right there with you on being up to HERE with popular culture's crapola. (Try to find a coloring book that DOESN'T have a product tie in. I dare you.) And you KNOW I'm reading! Will have to get back to you on label alternatives, because all I'm coming up with is proto-lezzy, which I'm thinking is maybe NOT what you had in mind.

At 3:17 PM, Blogger Chelle said...

I've been thinking about this quite a bit. Amy had a good idea - let's give up on coming up with an alternative to "tomboy" and come up with another name for the girly girls. Unfortunately, the only thought I have on that front is what the counselors at the Girl Scout camp I worked at called the girls (both camper and counselor) who shrieked at every bug, would avoid using the latrine until the last possible moment, and who generally should have chosen another spot to spend part of their summer. That particular name is not particularly nice, though.

When I was not much older than Taylor a slightly older girl from up the street called me a tomboy and said that no boy would ever want to marry me unless I changed my ways. Although I was never one to play with dolls (the only doll I remember playing with is GI Joe), the closest I came to being a tomboy at the time was wearing my brother's hand me down jeans and having a thing for the Rifleman. The comment prompted me to run home crying (if I'd really been a tomboy I'd probably have socked her). My mother assured me that it was okay, that she'd liked to play ball and such and she'd grown up and gotten married so I would too.

Of course, as it turned out they were both right. No boy ever wanted to ask me out, let alone marry me. But I did find the love of my life, and after 21 years together we were finally married. (It's been 23 years now, and almost 2 years of wedded bliss.)

At 8:42 AM, Anonymous Kathy said...

Okay, okay! I'm not lurking anymore. Pushy pushy pushy. Anyway. My girl is mix of "tomboy" and "girly." She loves all the outside stuff, is tough as nails, hates Barbie, yet likes to play with dolls. She used to give birth and nurse her babies and now they seem to be growing up along with her. I, of course, think she has the perfect balance. But what about the boys? What do we call the "nice boys?" Sissies? Babies? The pressure to be a violent wanker is pretty high even among the 5-year-old set. The dividing line between "boy" things and "girl" things is frightening. Why can't boys wear comfy cool dresses? Or really awesome boots? Where are their nice dolls? Why aren't there any dolls for girls AND boys that are not skinny wimps or violent macho men? My son wanted a doll for Christmas and we had to buy a "girl" doll, shave her head, and give him new hair. Now he looks just like my baby - clear eyed, curly haired with freckles. And my boy's doll (read, my boy) is jealous of the pink heart shirt that his sister's doll wears. Perfect.

At 8:32 PM, Blogger hevilift said...

Ok, I read- I had a tomBoy too-jeans only-no dresses-no make up and god forbid anything frilly!that was 30 years ago,After college, a few years working with "at risk" kids, she and her husband had the most beautiful grandchildren ever! (of course I'm prejudiced-but-they really are cute.The mom (our daughter) wants Madison(our grandaughter) to become a strong woman(like her mom) but is concerned because rather than dressing in jeans, playing with cars and trucks, she loves frilly and makeup!!Of course this is fine with grandma who can now dress up her grandaughter like the princess she is.One thing about Madison- she is smarter than her mother, is very opinonated, and already has a very strong personality-so no matter if a tomboy, or princess-both can grow up to be strong women.It seems that all the women in my life are strong. My mom(who taught me to appreciate strong women)My wife- one of the strongest women around- keeps me in line. My daughter(the tomboy) and my grand daughter(the Princess) I'm a Lucky Man-

At 1:52 PM, Anonymous chimchim said...

Gender, for heavens sake, is on a continuum. So lets not shoehorn our little ones into one end or the other. Doing a great job there, Tracy (and Steve)

At 2:06 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

(Found your blog through finslippy- loved your comment on things you thought you'd never have to say!) I think you're spot-on about the tomboy thing. My mother, bless her, bought my sister and me both dolls AND trucks to play with when we were little. I'm in college now, and working as a nanny part-time, and it infuriates me no end when the parents I work for try to force their boys to play sports or their girls to play with Barbies. The problem isn't with the kids for being different, it's with the parents for not wanting to let them be themselves!

At 6:05 AM, Anonymous dawn said...

Having an older brother, whom she admires greatly, Sophia is no lady. Because she loves splashing in puddles, throwing rocks,mud pies and worms, I've decided she may not go outside unless she is wearing black. All those gorgeous girly hand-me-downs are just too hard to "Shout out" the stains. The only girlie toy she plays with is her tea set, b/c she likes to be social and pour water.
Why does Grandma buy her Dora, when she'd much rather have "piderman", like Hayden? Speaking, of Dora, I'd say she's a better role model than any princess(excluding Mulan, a Martinec family favorite). We don't call Sophia a "tomboy". My girlfriend calls her spunky. We call her great!

At 10:07 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Another word for tomboy is "hoyden" -- sounds funny but means a boisterous, saucy girl which in my mind has far better implications than tomboy (which always makes me think of tomcats).

I think it actually doesn't matter what term we use for a girl (or woman) who goes against conventional thought as to how girls (or women) ought to behave. Men get the same type of labels foisted on them. Why? Because ideas exist before there are words to express them, and dim-wits will always come up with dim witted ideas, regardless of the language we taut on any given day. There are those who are threatened by non-conformity. They champion the herd instinct to trounce on anyone who goes against the group's values and precepts. It's a survival thing. Thank goodness there are those brave souls who choose to find their own way and in so doing move the species along the path of evolution.

I married someone whom others would term a tomboy. She is no less feminine than the next woman, but she is vastly more sexy, in my humble opinion, because she has a mind of her own and doesn't let anyone but her do the work of defining the meaning and portent of her existence. Go ahead and call her a tomboy or hoyden or whatever label you can come up with. She'll still be doing exactly what makes her happy and ignoring the idiocy of morons who think life is all about the names we give things and people. Life is a verb and so much more than keeping up appearances.

At 8:53 AM, Anonymous Katie said...

Although I'm only sixteen, these things have hung over my head ever since I realized it was going on (around 10 years old). Make up was originally made for actors so that their expressions and faces stood out even at a far distance in theater. It wasn't really something for everyone. Then ladies started using it to stand out. This didn't become a bad thing until the age dropped to three years old - which is entirely ridiculous. Young kids of either gender should enjoy their childhood. If anything they shouldn't know and thus shouldn't care about their gender. They should be more focused on learning morals and the difference between right and wrong. By cramming gender issues into their innocent lives, companies have ruined them with adult themes. Poor kids!

My childhood was spent not caring about gender. I knew it existed, but my parents never enforced, or even mentioned, a stereotype upon me. If more parents did this, kids would grow however they wish, they way they want to, without the influence of the adult world's prejudice and ideals. Then, when they grow up, those open-minded kids could pass it on. Humans need to improve themselves, and they can't do that when the last generation pushes their old views on the next.

So girls shouldn't be taught how to be girls. They should explore the world on their own, and take in what they deem interesting. Kids are curious like that. If it's close by and appealing, they will notice it.

But Ben and Jerry's rocks the socks. Go treat yourself!

At 11:00 PM, Anonymous Grandma G. said...

I know tomboy is a stupid term, but I wouldn't have found you without it. I am 65 yrs old and have one (out of 4) grandaughter who always wears pants, loves bugs, skiing, superheros,plays guitar, sword fights, swims, soccer and on and on. Her mother was the same, but not as extreme--I think because 39 years ago there were more options for girls (and boys) and they were encouraged by all sorts of factors to be adventurous, be themselves. (i.e. Margo Thomas record, title I can't remember, with the song called "Billy wants a Doll".) Feminists had to fight long and hard for you younger women to even be able to work outside the home! I think its time you start shouting loud and clear about this and other issues. You've got to start making noise. Complain in every girls department (like I do) about all the pink and frills to the exclusion of all else. Figure out how to make noise (but don't be bitchy -you know how they hate that!)Sexism is alive and more than well. Fight it. Vote for Hilary!

At 5:32 PM, Anonymous cookie~do said...

i guess u culd call ME a "tomaboy"
my friend has that IM NOT A TOMBOY IM AN ATHLETE shirt.
im like hello i need that. i have moments wen i want to be girly and prissy but most of the time im "just one of the guys"
i have friends that r girls but not alot. theres a lot of drama and they get mean.
i actually made fun of by my friends b/c im a tomboy. like if sum1 made a joke about a guy liking me 1 of the guys [just joking tho] wuld say wuldny that make him gay. i put up with it for a while but then i was like im NOT a guy im a girl just not a girly girl. i like who i am and if u dont then get over cus im not changen cus sum1 called me "a guy" which im not.
thank u for bein real.

At 1:12 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I am an athlete myself and just because im a girl who likes to hang out with the boys and play sports im considered a tomboy!! It also is true that girls cannot learn as much as boys can when it comes to playing barbies rather than gi-joe figures. I say girls shouldn't be labled as a girly girl or a tomboy it's stupid and very foolish!! Not every girl will be a "barbie" and as time passes there seems to be more females doing the things guys do at every age level from the time they walk until the end of time! Anything a guy can do a female can do better! However just because she can do it better doesnt mean she is a tomboy. Just because she plays sports doesnt mean she is a tomboy. Just becuase she likes mud, rocks, snakes, action figures, ect. does not give anyone the right to lable the young lady as a tomboy.


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